Poem: Four Minus Three



photo credit: Photography by Magda Indigo


Four Minus Three

By Shannon P. Laws


The sanctuary of four tulips
in a heavy glass jar
atop the round dining table
bathe in afternoon sun

Church is found in
the smallest folded places
Between petals
Between panes

A god does not determine
who lives or dies
It is the science of fate
The seat you sit in at three a.m.
when a moose moves out from the brush

Three bleed-out inside a crumpled-ball of car

while one

if asked by any nurse or doctor

could tell you
what the family
ate for dinner


Dream: The Petals

It all started with a bouquet of flowers.  Left on the circle table in the center of my new apartment positioned gracefully in a heavy crystal vase, a hand-me-down from my mother.  Multi-colored assorted.  They brightened the room and matched my shower curtain, and the bedspreads.


The second Monday morning, in my new apartment, the petals had been arranged around the table to form a question.

“Why do you write?”

Was it the wind, blown in from an open window, did I walk in my sleep, pulled the petals off for entertainment, or perhaps a spirit was involved.  The bouquet, only 5 days old.  Petals fell silently overnight to form words.

An interpretation of my mood, a call, a moaning of my soul.  A topic I struggle with at times when it seems it does not matter if I write or not.


Why do I get up at 3 a.m. and search my ceiling for answers as I see the month’s events unfold?  Why do I turn a scene at the grocery store between a door beggar and a suburbanite into prose?  Why should I want to take a dream and give it chapters?

I see myself in my minds world sitting on a great rock, overlooking other magnificent mountain ranges of rock.  A traveler comes by with a question in a flower.  “Writer, why must you write?  Does the world need another book?”

No, it doesn’t.

“Stranger,” I tell the traveler, “here is something you must know.  An artist must do their art.  It is a gift from heaven, or nature if you an atheists.  A gift that must be obeyed.  For me, some poems are built others born.  But the “chaser”, the gift within the gift—the work MUST be shared.”

A cat howls at another in the distant bush, a Nighthawk announces to others:  it is here, it is here.

The end of my story.  Do flowers talk to us?  Can they see us struggle in the night with worry, and words?  Are they aware of the gifts from heaven and nature, and read us like tea leaves at the bottom of a blue kilned cup?  My ending has more questions.  Only because there is never an ending.